Technology has moved at prolifically high speeds in recent years. From the arrival of the smartphone and the phenomenal growth of apps, to the heady worldwide popularity of social media, technology in the last couple of decades has reached dizzyingly new heights.
In terms of science and technology we are living in extremely exciting times. Things that were once considered to be the creative brainchild of science fiction authors and directors have now become all but normal components of everyday living.
Will the technology of the next two decades move equally as fast? Or has it reached its ceiling for the time being? Take a look at some of the avenues technology might take us next in the next few years.
Artificially Intelligent Personal Assistants
Microsoft introduced us to the concept of an artificially intelligent personal assistant with it highly annoying office assistant, Clippy in the 1990s. A good decade or so later Apple launched a more advanced intelligent assistant known as SIRI, which in a soothing voice can access the Internet and respond to specific language cues.
The realms of personal intelligent assistants are likely to be developed further in the ensuing years with analysts predicting that these virtual tools will soon have uncanny levels of intelligence. Not only will the personal assistants of the future be accessible 24/7, but they are also expected to fully respond to natural language, including personal idiosyncrasies and colloquialisms.
In 1965 Moore’s law was introduced, observing that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. The law was named after Intel co-founder, Gordon E. Moore, who also said that his law will finally fail in 2020 when the number of transistors we can put on chips will be limited by the laws of physics.
While this suggests that the prolific rise in the speed of computer processing will be brought to a shuddering halt in just over six years’ time, many experts predict that molecular technology will eventually come up and computers will have the intellectual capabilities of humans. This would of course mean that the computers we deem as being fast today would be infinitely faster in the 2020s.
The notion of ‘ubiquitous computing’ where computers are everywhere yet are barely visible is already beginning to surface. Many analysts predict that this ubiquitous technology will engulf the future, primarily due to the miniaturisation revolution that is currently in full swing. It has been cited that we will soon be living in a “Rainbow’s End” world, in which information processing devices will be practically everywhere but will be invisible. Such devices will be absorbed into our surroundings, including our clothes, contact lenses and accessories.
An Anti-Aging Revolution
Despite face creams and body lotions that claim to possess anti-aging properties being a multi-billion pound industry, there is not one actual product available that can actually reverse or even slow down the effects of aging. Gerontologists are predicting that this is soon to change. It might be a genetic tweak or therapy to restore the length of our telomeres; the numerable experiments that are currently being conducted on thwarting the aging of mice are likely to be soon applied to humans.
Who’d have thought 50 years ago or so, there would be giant steel windfarms sprouted across the landscape utilising the energy of the wind? It has been predicted that not so long from now, solar energy will leave wind farms and fossil fuels in the dust. According to Ray Kurzweil, futurist and director of engineering at Google: “The cost per watt of solar energy is coming down rapidly and the total amount of solar energy is growing exponentially. It has in fact been doubling every two years for the past 20 years and is now only eight doublings away from meeting all of the world’s energy needs.”
Not only are we effectively four years away from relying solely on solar energy for the whole of the world’s energy requirements, but the size of solar panels are expected to be dramatically reduced and are predicted to be able to be suspended in liquids and printed on flexible materials. This will mean that solar cells will be able to be placed on any surface.